The U.S. Department of Agriculture last year spent about $14 billion insuring farmers against the loss of crops or income, Bloomberg reported. That's nearly seven times more than in fiscal year 2000.
The federal crop insurance program is run by 18 approved insurance companies with funding from the government. The program pays farmers to buy coverage and pays subsidies if losses exceed predetermined limits.
President Barack Obama this year sought to cut almost $12 billion from the program over the next decade, and Republicans seem to agree with him. But farm and insurance lobbyists spent at least $52 million influencing lawmakers in the 2012 election cycle.
The program insured $117 billion worth of crops last year, including almost all the corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat grown in the U.S. There is no monetary limit on the insurance subsidies.
Crop insurers and the Agriculture Department say the insurance helps stabilize food prices for consumers while protecting farmers from weather-related losses.
The article quotes Jim Handsaker, of Story City, who says the insurance takes the risk out of farming, which he doesn't think is a good thing. It also quotes Mark Kenney, of Nevada, who says it's a good thing to minimize the risk.
"Of all the industries to be involved in, the security of our food, fuel and fiber is of the greatest importance," he said.